Homeopathy: An Economic Analysis

Introduction

Few of us would disagree that there is an urgent need to reform our health-care systems. The ever soaring health care costs indicate that the current health-care plan is unsustainable. Having seen the need to reform their health sector, multiple governments are now incorporating alternative and complementary medicine into their health care systems as a way of stemming rising health care costs. Among the forms of alternative medicine that have been adopted by many economies includes homeopathic therapy. With an origin in Germany, homeopathy has been built on a tradition of empirical observations and practises to develop a very unique therapeutic system. Many principles behind the practise of homeopathy disagree with known scientific principles. Still, homeopathy is proving effective in treating certain conditions (such as allergic reactions).

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The global population that accesses homeopathic therapy has been swelling in recent years. Such a scenario has left governments with the option of supporting, regulating, and controlling health care practises in their respective countries. Countries like France, German, Switzerland, and Brazil have designed policies to precisely govern homeopathic practise in their countries. The choice and options of countries on the practise of homeopathy must be informed by a cost-effectiveness analysis of homeopathic practise. Such an evaluation must consider the economic impacts of homeopathic practise at a large scale; as well as at an individual level.

Background Information

The cost of healthcare has been increasing in recent years. It is now becoming evident that, if left unchecked, the current cost of healthcare will increasingly become available only to those who can afford; thus, leaving out the poor and middle class majority. Among the approaches that have been adopted by some governments to mitigate the challenges in their health-care sector has been to recognize, institutionalize, regulate and support complementary and alternative medicine. Such a direction has seen a remarkable increase in the number of patients that are now seeking alternative and complementary medicine (in an effort to improve their general health). Patients with various conditions are now seeking alternative and complementary medicine. In the United States, patients are spending $34 billion dollars (a significant amount of expenditure) on contemporary and alternative medications (Nahin et al. 4). Patients with conditions like allergy now prefer alternative treatment to medical treatment. Here, about a third of such patients are using alternative medicine to improve their conditions (Nahin et al. 5).

Among the forms of alternative medication that have been of interest to all parties in the health sector is homeopathic medication. Having started in Germany over two centuries ago, Homeopathic therapy has grown and spread over the years across Europe, America and the rest of the world. In many ways, homeopathic therapy is different from conventional medicine (Nahin et al. 5). Unlike conventional medicine that relies heavily on proven scientific approaches to treat different conditions. Homeopathy has grown from a tradition of observations to create a database of various conditions and their treatment. Homeopathic procedure has been incompatible with known scientific principles. Since we heavily rely on science to prove for many things in our lives, it has been impossible to prove how homeopathy works (if it works at all).

It would be useful at this point to mention important principles that have directed homeopathic research. Generally, homeopathic therapy is based on the principle that suggests as follows: Materials that cause a living organism to experience certain conditions can be used to treat those particular conditions for which they cause the given symptoms. This particular principle has an ancient origin in the research of Hippocrates (Herman 8). On taking given amounts of quinine, Hippocrates had developed mild signs of malaria. Later, interested researchers built and expanded on this particular principle. Homeopathic researchers have been able to identify a database of materials that can cause healthy individuals to develop the signs of specific ailments; when taken in given amounts. These substances are usually used to treat the conditions for which they cause given signs to develop in healthy individuals. For example, quinine can be used to treat the condition of malaria (Herman 8). Here, it is worth to mention that the above principle is not the similar with the mechanism of immune response in a living organism. Although different researchers have tried to explain how the above principle might be working, there has not been a scientific explanation for the above process

Unlike conventional medication that relies heavily on clinical symptoms and laboratory results to diagnose and treat various conditions, homeopathy relies on a more complex approach. Apart from disease symptoms, homeopathic practitioners rely on other elements like the health status of a patient, his emotional state, and his medical history to identify specific medication for each individual patient. In the tradition of homeopathic practise, each individual patient requires a specific and unique medication. The implication of this particular arrangement results in more detailed and longer sessions between homeopathic practitioners and their patients. Generally, homeopathic patients spend more resources on consultation fees in comparison with patients under contemporary medication.

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Since our research will rely heavily on the contribution of medicine towards total medication costs, it is important to briefly explain the principle behind the production and use of homeopathic drugs. Unlike conventional drugs that rely on the presence of active ingredients in medicine to treat various conditions, homeopathic drugs may contain no molecule of an active ingredient. The premise is that active ingredients modify (chemically and physically) their environment such that their effect can still be induced even without their presence. This particular premise has informed the preparation of homeopathic drugs. Usually, homeopathic drugs are prepared by a process that thoroughly mixes active ingredients with a solvent through a vigorous shaking process.

The process of diluting an active ingredient can be done for an infinite duration of time to obtain infinite quantities of medicine; thus resulting in homeopathic medications that have no molecule of an active ingredient per volume (Nahin et al. 5). The economic implication of the above process is that homeopathic drugs can be prepared easily and at a low cost. As it is generally the case, patients that undergo homeopathic medication incur lower costs on drugs than those who are under conventional medication. Moist of the literature that will be evaluated in this paper will rely on the above principle to show how the cost of homeopathic medication compares with that of contemporary medication.

So as to tackle the apparent need for a fast restructuring of healthcare systems (so as to effectively accommodate for the wellbeing of every person), many governments are now incorporating homeopathy into their health care systems. Countries like Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Nigeria, among others are now using public resources to support homeopathic practise and research. Such a direction must have been informed by some evidence suggesting that homeopathic practise is helpful in the management of certain conditions. The question of homeopathic effectiveness is one that has attracted a lot of debate; with contrary conclusions emerging from various researchers. However, it cannot be denied that some people have shown improvements in their health after trying homeopathic therapies. Since homeopathy is emerging as a possible alternative to contemporary medication for the treatment of various conditions, more and more resources will continue to be spent on homeopathic therapies and on homeopathic research. A cost effectiveness analysis of homeopathic practise is therefore useful in the direction of understanding the economical viability of homeopathic practise (Nahin et al. 5).

Effectiveness of Homeopathic Treatment at a Macro Level

There has been a great deal of controversy on the issue regarding effectiveness of homeopathic treatment. The main point of contention has been the fact that many homeopathic medicines contain no molecule of active substances. Homeopathic medicines are so highly diluted that they usually contain little, or no molecules of the active ingredients (Rossi et al. 5). However, homeopathic practitioners insist that since active ingredients are capable of altering the chemical structure of their environment, they do not need to be physically present in a solution so as to have a healing effect on a patient. Nevertheless, scientific studies have not conclusively shown that such a direction is possible. Scientists do not understand how a highly diluted substance can still have an impact on patient (due to the claimed chemical alteration of a surrounding environment by active ingredients) (Herman 19).

Homeopathic treatments are usually based on the claim that it is possible to strengthen one’s immunity; and therefore activate a natural healing process through the intake of substances that cause one to develop signs of a particular illness. Just like the active ingredient notion, the above process of activating a healing response through the use of substances that cause one to develop signs of a particular disease has not been scientifically verified. Here, it is important to mention that homeopathic treatment is different from the usual immune response mechanisms. In a natural immune response, the body develops an immune response against a particular disease after coming into contact with a disease causing organism. Although several researchers have developed theories on how homeopathic treatment could be working, the mechanism of homeopathic treatment has not been fully understood. Still, it is important to understand that homeopathic treatment has developed as a discipline which has grown from empirical data over the last two hundred years. The type of data that is used for homeopathic treatment such as patient observations, patient responses and substance effects is systematic and consistent (Herman 28).

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Those against the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment claim that the highly diluted homeopathic medicines cannot on their own induce a healing response in a patient; and that positive response from patients has merely developed from a placebo effect. Here, since patients believe that they are receiving medicine while undergoing homeopathic treatment, they can develop a psychological healing response on their own (Nahin et al. 5). Such a response cannot then be attributed to the homeopathic treatment that they received. Since many homeopathic patients seek for contemporary treatments as well, it has been often difficult to entirely attribute the perceived positive effects of homeopathic treatment to homeopathic medicine. Experimental data on the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment has also been controversial without conclusive deductions. While some experiments have shown homeopathy to be effective in treating some diseases, other experiments have resulted in contrary conclusions (Herman 15).

However, the experimental and empirical nature of homeopathic treatment has forced a number of governments to recognize homeopathy as a discipline that can help to fruitfully aid in promoting the health of their citizens. Homeopathy has now evolved as a useful approach in complementary and supplementary medicine. There are thousands of homeopathic clinics and practitioners in the United States. The governments of Switzerland, Germany, France, Nigeria, among others have now incorporated homeopathy in the health policy of their countries. Such a direction must have been informed by some consistent data favouring the incorporation of homeopathic treatment.

The main reason behind the acceptance of homeopathy as a credible alternative to contemporary medicine is the fact that homeopathy research is based on a tradition of empirical data. The tradition of homeopathy research is based on practises and observations which have helped to classify disease conditions, curative procedures and healing medicines. Through various experiments, there has been an emerging pattern which has been suggesting the positive impact of homeopathy practise in treating some conditions. Let us consider important studies in support of homeopathic treatment.

As one can expect, one of the key questions arising from the practise of homeopathy that has been in scrutiny over the years has been on the potential active ingredients in altering (both chemically and physically) their environments. Is it possible to show for an alteration of a carrier substance by an active ingredient? Here, a problem that has merged in evaluating the above question is the avoidance of old literatures on the above question; usually, by many modern researchers (Herman 15). Lately, electrochemical studies have shown that there is a structural difference in the chemical and physical nature of diluted homeopathic carriers from controls. Such observations have also been confirmed by thermodynamic studies and nuclear-resonance studies.

Botanical science has also been helpful in evaluating the potential of homeopathy in treating organisms. Just like in other studies of homeopathy, modern scientists have been reluctant to follow up on incomplete literature that had been done by older generation scientists. Recently, two important observations have been made (Wolf et al. 19). First, homeopathic substances were shown to slightly impact the health of healthy plants by just over 2%. Here, although this particular impact was observed to be low, it was statistically consistent. In unhealthy plants, the impact of homeopathic substances rose to 20%. Such observations have been in agreement with the notion that homeopathic substances (which are usually highly diluted to levels of zero molecules per volume) are more effective in sickly organisms than in healthy ones (Herman 15).

The effectiveness of homeopathic treatment has also been applied in animals. Here, it has been observed that an intoxication of an animal can be reversed by the use of relevant homeopathic remedies (Wolf et al. 19). Studies of over one hundred such experimental studies as above have suggested that highly diluted homeopathic treatments can replace missing substances (such as hormones in frogs) in animals.

Besides, studies of allergic reactions in animals have also suggested a relation between homeopathic substances and histamine potencies. Here, there has been a dispute over the above conclusion (Herman 15). However, since the above results have been reproduced numerous times, some scientists are suggesting a pointer towards the effectiveness of homeopathic substances.

As I had mentioned, there has also been a number of experiments which have suggested against the effectiveness of homeopathic treatments. For example, some rat experiments have brought to doubt the effectiveness of homeopathic substances in treating diseases. In one particular instance, homeopathic substances were not seen to produce different results from controls (Wolf et al. 19). In some human observations, people who were taking homeopathic treatment produced similar results from those that were taking controls; thus, suggesting that homeopathy is primarily a result of the placebo effect (Herman 15). For example, in an experiment that was done in the UAE, a meta-analysis study of about 3500 patients showed a positive homeopathic response in 60 patients and a positive placebo response in 55 patients; thus, discrediting homeopathic treatment (Herman 15). With such discrepancies in homeopathic experiments, it has been difficult for all parties in the health sector to come to a conclusive agreement about the effectiveness of homeopathic treatments. However, before one embarks in an attempt to determine the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment, it is important to make a number of observations (Nahin et al. 5).

As a field that is basing its treatment on the complex behaviour pattern of an organism including emotional state, disease history and disease symptoms, it can be difficult to obtain conclusive data. Here, one can only be able to attain a behaviour pattern that arises when important parameters (which may be difficult to measure) are considered. Besides, unlike contemporary medicine where experiments can be based on expected physical and chemical reactions of organisms, homeopathic treatment is primarily based on historical observations (which have mostly been made over the last two hundred years). Importantly, it is useful to base conclusions on systematic experiments (Wolf et al. 19).

One approach that has often been employed in evaluating the impact of homeopathic treatment is through the use of vote counting. Here, a summation of positive and negative results from similar, but repetitive experiments is done. With many experiments suggesting a positive homeopathic response; and many other experiments suggesting a zero response from homeopathic treatment, several vote counts have been in favour of homeopathy. More importantly however, it is important to consider the qualitative nature of homeopathic experiments. The question would then be why discrepancies exist. Since homeopathic treatment depends on an array of many factors, it is useful to consider how such factors may have affected the outcome of an experiment (Herman 15). The success of homeopathic treatment may depend on factors such as the natural response of an individual to a given treatment (since individuals are expected to respond differently to homeopathic treatment, treatment should always be individualized).

Other factors that may affect the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment include the capacity of a homeopathic doctor to administer correct medication and the capacity of a patient to correctly follow given prescriptions. Since it is always difficult to obtain data about factors such as those that have been mentioned above from most experiments, it is also difficult to easily understand the impact of homeopathic treatment in patients. In fact, there are no studies that have considered factors such as those that have been mentioned above (Herman 15). Such an arrangement presents a great difficulty in evaluating the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment from many studies. Still, a qualitative approach has suggested positively about the use of homeopathic treatment. Such an approach has been adopted by some researchers in homeopathy like Wolf et al.

After evaluating over 30 reviews, Wolf et al. was able to show that homeopathic treatment is useful in treating many types of diseases. Indeed, the government of Switzerland has greatly relied on Wolf et al.’s homeopathic evaluation report to incorporate homeopathy into its health system. However it may well be possible that a majority of positive reviews on homeopathy might have been done with a tendency to justify homeopathy; thus, a high risk of bias. Therefore, we cannot rely on these types of research in obtaining absolute knowledge about homeopathy. However, positive reviews on homeopathy can help us understand that homeopathy is effective in treating some conditions (when it is applied correctly) (Nahin et al. 5).

Cost Evaluation at a Macro Level

The general cost of contemporary medical treatment has highly increased in recent years. It is now approximated that the cost of medication is now above the average cost of living in western countries. The trend in developing countries is likewise worrying due to the increasing burden of medical costs there. Such a direction calls for a need to urgently restructure health policies in all countries so as to lower the general cost of medication. Are homeopathy and other forms of alternative medicine among the options that can be pursued in the direction of lowering the general costs of medication? Although we can generally agree that homeopathy is less expensive than contemporary medicine due to a number of factors that we will shortly consider, no exhaustive research has so far been done on an economic evaluation of homeopathy. The fact that countries like Switzerland, Germany, Nigeria, Brazil and France are now incorporating homeopathy into their health policies may indicate that homeopathy is economically attractive. One of the main difficulties that immediately arise the moment one attempts to evaluate the possible economic benefits of homeopathy is the fact that unlike contemporary medicine, homeopathy works on an individual basis. The success of homeopathy in treating a disease is therefore dependant on how an individual is susceptible to the treatment that he is given

It is quite difficult to perform an economic analysis of homeopathic treatment at macro-level. Unlike contemporary medicine, homeopathy is a practise that greatly relies on observations of patient behaviour instead of experiments to treat different ailments. Different models have been developed on how the cost analysis at a large scale level can be achieved. However, it has been difficult for any researcher to perform an exhaustive analysis of homeopathic medication on the economy. Having identified how homeopathic treatment is different from normal therapy, I identified different elements that can be used to perform a cost analysis of homeopathy at a large scale (societal level). Incidentally, several researchers have also used the above approach (that I will describe shortly) to perform a cost analysis of homeopathy at a societal level (Herman 15).

Since it is impossible to argue in favour of homeopathic therapy when it comes in effectiveness terms, I will limit my analysis to those conditions/individuals where homeopathy has proved more successful (according to some research) than contemporary medicine. Indeed, we shall observe in later discussion that homeopathic therapies have been more successful in treating conditions like respiratory infections than contemporary medication. Due to limited research and knowledge about homeopathy, we cannot replace contemporary medication with homeopathic medication at the moment. However, homeopathy can be supported to complement and supplement contemporary medication. Such a direction has a direct economic implication in the sense that the current health-care systems can only be modified to support homeopathy and contemporary medication. Going back to the important elements that I would consider in evaluating the economic analysis of homeopathy, three important elements will be considered: the cost of drugs, the cost of consultation, and the cost of medical procedures. Since the above factors play significantly in affecting the health of individuals, other type of costs that originate from medication (such as the cost of transport, and the loss of productivity due to sickness) can be directly related to the three factors above.

.Here, it would be useful to note a number of factors that directly affect the cost of homeopathy medication in relation to contemporary medicine. Generally, we can expect the cost of homeopathic drugs to be significantly lower than those from contemporary medicine. We have already mentioned that the active ingredient is usually highly diluted to less that a molecule in a given volume of homeopathic drugs. In fact, when a given drug has been developed, it can be continuously diluted for an infinite period of time. Such an arrangement presents at least to points that are of an economic interest here. First, with little or no presence of active ingredients in a given sample of homeopathic drugs, the cost of homeopathic drugs is significantly reduced.

In fact, some researchers have noted that the cost of producing most homeopathic drugs is almost the same as the cost of water. This particular factor (of drug prices) will be considered later in projecting the average cost of homeopathic medication. Moreover, because most homeopathic drugs have no molecule of the active ingredient, we can expect a very low chance of intoxications from patients that are taking homeopathic drugs. As a result, medical costs that could otherwise result from intoxication are eliminated. One of the major advantages that have resulted from the use of homeopathic treatment is the reduction of intoxication costs (which are common for patients that take contemporary medicine).

However, it is useful to note that homeopathic drugs contain significant levels of alcohol. The alcohol that is usually present in homeopathic drugs may cause some reactions in patients. However, the possibility of a patient reacting from the amount of alcohol in homeopathic drugs is very rare. Another factor that makes homeopathic drugs cheap is the fact that homeopathic drugs are non-patented, generic, and can be easily reproduced. As a result, costs that result from copyright issues (among other costs that result from patented drugs) are eliminated. Generally, homeopathic drugs are cheaper than conventional drugs. Van and Ives were able to show in their study on the cost-effectiveness of homeopathic therapy that Belgium can save millions of Euros if all doctors in Belgium were to prescribe homeopathic drugs as opposed to contemporary drugs. In their research, Van and Ives compared the cost of homeopathic drugs and contemporary drugs that are used to treat specific infections (Van and Ives 7).

The findings of Van and Ives suggest that ordinary doctors spend as much as three times on drugs as compared to their homeopathic counterparts. On the other hand, homeopathic doctors spend only a fifth of what is spent by contemporary doctors on antibiotics. Such a direction indicates massive savings (about 800 million euros) that can be made if all doctors in Belgium were to prescribe medicines as homeopathic practitioners (Van and Ives 7). A saving that is equivalent to two thirds of a country’s budget is obviously helpful in promoting the economic wellbeing of citizens. The table below summarizes the finds of Van and Ives on the savings that can be made if all medical practitioners in Belgium were to give medicine to their patients as homeopathic practitioners. Although many factors on the population of study are required to come up with a more accurate representation of the above approximation, the pattern that has been demonstrated here is that homeopathic medicine is relatively cheaper than contemporary medicine.

National cost savings

Unlike contemporary medicine, homeopathic treatment is more personalised. Before prescribing medications, homeopathic consultants will need to review one’s emotional state, his health, among other factors in addition to disease symptoms. The above arrangement means that homeopathic practitioners are required to spend more hours with their patients when compared with contemporary health practitioners. A direct result of such an arrangement is high consultation costs in homeopathic practise. However, there is often a low follow up consultation cost. The initial high consultation cost is usually fruitful as most patients report better health; thus, a low follow up cost. Since many homeopathic practitioners will extensively evaluate issues that are often ignored by contemporary health practitioners, their patients usually report better health within a short time (Van and Ives 7).

Many homeopathic patients will thus incur high treatment costs during their initial stages of homeopathic treatment. A number of studies have shown a reduction in costs for patients that seek homeopathic treatment. A study carried out in Italy by Rossi et al showed a significant reduction in overall consultation costs for patients that were undergoing homeopathic treatment as opposed to those undergoing ordinary medication. Such an observation might seem to deviate from the observations that we have made above. Before going further, I would like to mention that the medical environment in Italy (where the study was done) may be different in some aspects from other environments elsewhere. First, the Italian government subsidizes for transport costs that are incurred by patients. Secondly, in the above study setting, the cost of consultation is usually independent of the number of consultation visits. Although homeopathic patients spent longer periods of time on each of their consultation visits as compared to patients that were under contemporary medication, their overall average visits per annum decreased (Rossi et al. 5).

Such a direction indicates that homeopathic medication is more effective in treating certain conditions; hence, decreasing the number of consultation visits for homeopathic patients (Herman 15). Another implication that is worth to mention here is the necessity of specialist practitioners for patients who are under contemporary medications. Specialists usually charge high fees as compared to ordinary practitioners. Research by Rossi et al. showed that patients under homeopathic medication were in less need of specialists as opposed to patients who were under contemporary medication. Researchers like Rossi have been able to show a significant reduction in medical spending for patients who had adopted homeopathic medication. We will discuss the work of Rossi et al. in more detail in our next section of analysis (Rossi et al. 5).

Another factor that has helped to lower the cost of homeopathic medication as compared to ordinary medication is the lower requirement for laboratory procedures for patients that undergo homeopathic treatment. In a study that was done by van and Ives, homeopathic physicians subjected their patients to less and cheaper laboratory procedures as opposed to ordinary doctors (Van and Ives 5).

When the factors that have been considered above are considered cumulatively, there is a general reduction in the overall cost of homeopathic medication. For example, a survey of over 200 patients in the Germany showed that the average time for consultation reduced by an average of 70% for patients that were seeking homeopathic treatment in a period of 12 months. Likewise, the cost of drugs was reduced by more than a half for patients that were seeking homeopathic treatment. Another study that was carried out on the cost and impact of homeopathy showed that homeopathic practitioners prescribe fewer medicines to their patients unlike their contemporary counterparts. The overall cost of medical care was thus as a result of consultation. Besides, homeopathic drugs are usually cheaper than contemporary drugs (Rossi et al. 5).

The high numbers of patients that are currently seeking homeopathic treatment (among other forms of contemporary medicine) suggest implications for health policy designers. More than a third of patients in the US that are suffering from allergy are seeking homeopathic treatment. More than $30 billion dollars are every year in the United States on alternative and complementary medicine (Herman 6). Interestingly, most of the patients that seek alternative and complementary medicine are highly educated (Nahin et al. 22).

Cost and Effectiveness of Homeopathy at a Micro-Llevel

As I have mentioned, many people are increasingly turning to homeopathy and other forms of alternative medicine in search for better health. With the rising cost of contemporary medicine, it is now becoming apparent that the current arrangement of medical care is unsustainable. Having reviewed the cost and effectiveness of homeopathy at a societal level, it will now be useful to evaluate the cost and effectiveness of homeopathy at an individual level. Unlike the previous evaluation that we have seen, there is actually a number of studies that have tried to estimate the actual cost of treating various diseases through homeopathy. Indeed, some particular studies have even laid down a cost comparison between homeopathic treatment and conventional medicine.

Since medical cost cannot be evaluated without considering the question of utility, it would also be useful to evaluate the health benefits that are actually accrued by patients that seek homeopathic treatment (Rossi et al. 5). Such benefits become of economical importance when they affect the productivity and savings of patients. This particular study reviewed a number of journals that have tried to evaluate a cost-benefit analysis for homeopathic medicine. All of the three journals that were reviewed based their findings on observational data from patients and practitioners in the health sector. The main interest of the journals was to evaluate the economic outcome on patients that result from their use of homeopathic therapy. The focus was therefore a cost analysis per individual patient.

In a research done by Herman, a comparison review of alternative medicine treatment and contemporary medicine treatment was done. Here, the researchers tried to measure the effectiveness of particular forms of treatment through the observation of important indicators such as a drop in blood pressure for patients with problems of high blood pressure. The cost of medication was calculated from the total amount of money that would have, or was spent by patients on particular medications (Herman 12).

Analysing the cost of treating various conditions can be done through various approaches. As I have mentioned, Herman used a cost –effectiveness approach. Here, the cost of treating a certain condition is compared with the effectiveness of the form of treatment taken. Such approach is only possible when health parameters (that can be easily measured) like blood pressure are compared with the cost of treatment. Moreover, the researchers evaluated the overall costs that arise from treating certain conditions through various methods. Generally, medical costs can be classified as follows. First, we have direct medical cost, which arise from elements like service fees, the cost of hospitalization and using hospital equipment, medicine costs, and consultation costs among others. The other types of direct cost arising from therapies include direct but non medical costs. The cost of travelling to clinics/hospitals and the resources that are usually lost by patients due to the time that they spend in hospital fall here. We also have indirect costs that arise from the loss of a production capacity by an ailing patient. Money paid to nurses by recuperating patients, and childcare costs are also categorized under indirect costs. Finally, we also have intangible costs that arise from the pain and discomfort of a sick patient (Rossi et al. 5).

Usually, indirect costs are usually of great interest in a societal evaluation. In his research, Herman evaluated over 60 economic reviews. Here, the author sourced his data from Medline database, Alt-Health Watch, AMED, and from research papers on alternative medicine. Below is a table that summarizes the findings of Herman on the relative costs that are incurred by patients with diverse conditions for different forms of medication. As it can be seen below, alternative medication is more economically viable that normal healthcare. Looking at the homeopathic evaluation from the table, the economic benefits of homeopathic therapy for patients with dyspepsia is similar to normal therapy. The above evaluation was done for both CEA (Cost Effectiveness Analysis) (Herman 7).

Cost Effectiveness Analysis

By all means, homeopathic therapy has performed above average here. Since the author considered all parameters that contribute to the total cost of treatment, a number of factors are in favour of homeopathic therapy. Usually, homeopathic therapy requires more hours of consultation in the initial stages of treatment than normal therapy. As a result, patients that choose homeopathic therapies over normal therapy are likely to spend more on consultation and on transport. Such patients are likely to spend a considerable amount of their time with homeopathic practitioners. Under the economic model that has been used by Herman, such a particular direction has an effect of accumulating the total costs that are incurred by homeopathic patients (Rossi et al. 5). Travel costs, consultation time, and consultation costs can exaggerate the actual cost of treating homeopathy.

Normally, such costs are usually stemmed over time due to a decrease in the amount of time that is spent on consultation by homeopathic patients over time. Besides, it is difficult to develop a model that correctly represents the costs that are usually incurred as a result of time that is spent by patients on consultation. Time has particular aspects that are difficult to measure (such as quality). Should we then view the time that a patient spends with a consultant as quality time since such patients are usually more able to economically contribute to the society after recovery? A great advantage of homeopathy over normal therapy is that patients susceptible to homeopathic treatment heal faster than those on normal medication; thus, with a consequence of allocating homeopathic patients more quality time to economically contribute towards themselves and the society (Rossi et al. 5).

Rossi et al. carried out a study on the cost of treating patients with respiratory problems through the use of homeopathic therapy. The authors compared the cost of treating patients that had respiratory problem through the use of homeopathy with the costs that could have been incurred if such patients had used normal therapy for treatment. Like Herman, Rossi et al., considered both indirect and direct costs that are usually incurred by patients that seek homeopathic therapies. The Rossi et al. study covered a total of 105 patients with serious respiratory conditions that were attending the Campo de Marte homeopathic clinic in Italy. By noting the type of treatment that would have been assessed by the patients if they had obtained normal therapies for their different pathologies, Rossi et al. was able to calculate the cost of treating patient conditions if they had accessed ordinary therapies. Here, the cost of treatment was considered for the first and second year of treatment for both therapies.

So as to ensure that the observations which would be made on homeopathic patients were not random, or as a result of a normal evolution process of their conditions, Rossi et al. formed a control group. The control group consisted of patients that had similar (chronic respiratory diseases) conditions to homeopathic patients. Doctors at the Campo de Marte clinic helped the authors to obtain the control group. Although the control group consisted of patients that had similar pathological conditions to the study group, they were not taking homeopathic therapy (Rossi et al. 5). As we had seen earlier, the cost of consultation is on its own the largest proportion of the total costs that are usually incurred by homeopathic patients. It would therefore be useful to mention two factors that could have been in favour of homeopathic treatment for this particular study. First, the Italian government substitutes for the cost of travel that is incurred by patients during hospital visits. Secondly, consultation periods at the Campo de Marte hospital are often fixed at one hour and the cost of consultation is independent of the number of visits. Since the cost of homeopathic therapy is heavily dependant on consultation costs, the arrangement at Campo de Marte hospital is obviously in favour (at least to some extent) to homeopathic treatment. However, the results of the study cannot be based on this particular arrangement. The environment of treating patients applies equally to everyone in all public Italian hospitals (Rossi et al. 5).

Two important parameters were used to determine the cost of treating various conditions that were considered in the Rossi et al. study; the cost of various diagnostic procedures, and the cost of drugs. These two particular costs rank among the direct costs of treatment. Indirect costs were also considered. Majority of the patients that were studied were using homeopathic treatment for the first time. About a third of the study patients had used normal therapies before trying homeopathic therapy. The table below summarizes important information about the study patients.

 important information about the study patients.

On evaluating the cost of treating various respiratory conditions through the use of homeopathy and normal therapies, the authors made findings in favour of homeopathic treatment. The cost of pharmacological medication was observed by the researchers to have reduced by an average of 46% (for patients with respiratory conditions on homeopathic treatment) during the first year of treatment. On the other hand, costs due to the use of drugs were observed by the researchers to have reduced by an average of about 43% (for patients with respiratory conditions on homeopathic treatment) during the first year of treatment. During the second year of treatment, the cost of pharmacological medication was observed by the researchers to have reduced by 48 percent while the cost of drugs reduced by an average of 50% (for patients that were under homeopathic medication). The table below summarizes cost comparisons between homeopathic therapies and normal therapies (Rossi et al. 5).

Cost comparisons between homeopathic therapies and normal therapies

As it can be seen from the table above, homeopathic treatment is relatively cheaper than normal therapies for all the conditions that were considered. Moreover, in many instances (including conditions like Asthma, recurrent conditions and allergy), the cost of treating homeopathic patients reduced in the second year as compared to the first year of treatment. Such a direction was a result of remarkable improvements that were observed in homeopathic patients; thus, resulting in decreased costs during the second year of treatment. Majority of the patients under this particular study were able to reduce, or eliminate their consumption of conventional medicine. Such a direction could indicate the necessity of employing an integrated approach in treating conditions like asthma. In many cases, patients with respiratory conditions develop cycles of worsening attacks even after taking antibiotic medications. Due to its integrated approach in treating different conditions, homeopathic therapy could be more useful in treating respiratory conditions.

There was a large decrease in therapeutic and drug costs for patients that were taking homeopathic treatment. As we had seen earlier, homeopathic drugs are generally less expensive than conventional drugs. Besides, due to marked improvement in the health of most patients that was undertaking homeopathic medication, the amount of drugs required for medication reduced in the second and subsequent years. Marked improvement in the health of patients that were taking homeopathic medication can also be used to explain the overall reduction in the amount money that was required to treat patients undergoing homeopathic medication. As it has been noted by Rossi et al., homeopathic medication was more suitable for treating respiratory infections. As I had noted earlier, certain conditions at play in the environment of patients may vary greatly in different areas. Of particular interest here are the travel subsidies that are given by the Italian government to patients and consultation costs. However, since the authors factored in the above elements in their research, their study is relevant to other places like the US. Moreover, it would simply require an adjustment in health policy to factor in important issues that can effectively reduce the cost of treating some conditions through homeopathic therapy.

In another study, Van and Ives carried out research on routine practises in homeopathic medication. Here, Van and Ives studied 782 patients (most of which had serious conditions) who were undergoing homeopathic medication. The focus of their (Van and Ives) study was to understand how homeopathy practise compares with normal medication in a cost-effectiveness analysis model. The researchers used questionnaires to obtain information from patients and their homeopathic doctors. The questionnaires intended for patients obtained information about their type of ailments, the effectiveness of medication, the frequency of clinical visits and the cost of medication. The researchers used a nine point scale to measure the effectiveness of medication (with total satisfaction at the top and average satisfaction at the centre) (Van and Ives 11).

In addition, patients were also presented with a four point scale which was used to measure the extent of severity for their various conditions. Among the questions that were asked to physicians included the grounds on which they prescribed medication to patients, and information regarding homeopathic and conventional treatment for various ailments. Doctors were also asked to identify the primary organ system of infection in addition to a maximum of five secondary infections in other organ systems (Van and Ives 11).The focus of this particular research was the amount of costs that are incurred by homeopathic patients in relation to their counterparts that seek ordinary medication. Thus, the outcome of this particular research was to relate the economical advantage of homeopathic medication in relation to contemporary medication to individual patients. Three important aspects were investigated: Drugs, frequency of clinical visits, and the cost of medication.

We will summarize the findings of this particular research on each of the above elements.

First, the researchers estimated the cost of treating different conditions through conventional means. The cost of treating different conditions through the use of conventional means (majority of which required antibiotics due to different respiratory problems) was obtained from questionnaires that were filled by 208 patients who were only taking conventional medication (over 70% of the patients who were taking homeopathic medication were not under any form of conventional medication). The table below shows the type of medications under conventional therapy that were given to patients for various conditions. As it can be seen, most of the patients in conventional medication were given antibiotics.

The type of medications under conventional therapy that were given to patients for various conditions.

Below is a table showing the type of medicines that were used to treat different conditions in homeopathic medication.

The type of medicines that were used to treat different conditions in homeopathic medication.

Below is a table showing the number of patients that stopped to use conventional drugs following advice from their homeopathic physicians.

The number of patients that stopped to use conventional drugs following advice from their homeopathic physicians.

As it can be seen above, more than half of the patients that had been using conventional medication before settling on homeopathic medication stopped using at least one type of the drugs that they had been given by their conventional doctors.

The average duration in which patients claimed to have used homeopathic medication was 9.2 years. About 33.3% of the patients said that they had used homeopathic medication for a period of over ten years. The average period per patient under which the patients had presented specific problems for homeopathic medication was six years. The average number of consultations per each of the homeopathic patient per year was 6. An important observation was a tremendous decline in the average number of consultations per patient per year (that resulted once patients switched from conventional medication to homeopathic medication).

Here, there was reduction in consultation visits per patient per annum from an average of 7 to 1 for patients that switched from conventional treatment to homeopathy. It is also noteworthy to observe that the average number of specialist visits per patient per year reduced from an average of 3 to 1. Compared to contemporary medication, homeopathic patients spent more time on consultation visits. The average time that was spent on consultation per visit for homeopathic patients was 37 minutes compared to an average of 15 minutes per visit for patients on contemporary medication. Patients that had serious conditions (including those in need of psychiatry) spent an average of 45 minutes per consultation (following their visits to homeopathic clinics).

Generally, patients undergoing homeopathic treatment recorded lower annual costs for their treatment in comparison to the costs that they had incurred on contemporary medication. Here, the cost of medication that was considered was solely consultation cost. On average, patients that had switched from contemporary medication to homeopathic medication indicated that they were spending 287 euros on average per annum during homeopathic medication; as opposed to 370 euros per annum that they had spent on contemporary medication earlier. It is important to note here that not all patients recorded a drop in the amount of money that they were spending on homeopathic medication. The figures that have been given above are average. The cost of treatment was proportionate to the extent of severity that resulted from different patient conditions. Patients that recorded marked improvements in their health after they had begun homeopathic treatment were able to make higher (about 60 euros less per annum) savings than they had made before they had started their homeopathic therapies (about 137 pounds less per annum).

The issue of homeopathy effectiveness in treating various conditions was also addressed by the researchers. Here, the researchers asked patients some questions touching on the effectiveness of homeopathic medication (after they had begun their treatment). The table below summarizes the patient’s views on the effectiveness of homeopathic medications that they were taking. As it can be seen, most patients recorded some improvement (positive values indicate improvements) in their health status following homeopathic medication. Again, it is important to note that the scores shown below are average. As it can be expected, the health status of a few patients worsened. As it can be interpreted below, some homeopathic remedies were more fruitful in improving the health of patients than others. Also, a marked improvement in physical health was also proportionate to some improvement in psychological health and vice-versa for all patients (Van and Ives 9).

Relationship beetween remedy and patient's rating of outcome

For patients that had been undertaking conventional medicine before they settled for homeopathic therapy, their improvement during contemporary medication was compared to observed improvement during homeopathic medication. Here. Required data for the above rating was obtained from patients and physicians. The table below is a summary of the finding on the above comparison.

A summary of the finding on the above comparison.

As it can be seen above, most patients recorded a better improvement in their health status following the administration of homeopathic treatment than during the period before which they had not started homeopathic treatment. Such a trend was observed in both the physical and psychological health of the patients. Unlike the case in conventional medication, there were very rare instances when homeopathic medication was shown to be ineffective. On being asked to rate the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment, over 82% of the patients reported an improvement in their health status, about 11 percent said that homeopathic medication had not made any impact on their health, and only about three percent reported a worsening health status. Apart from seeing a general improvement in their health following homeopathic therapies, most patients saw a reduction in their drug bills as a result of taking homeopathic medication. Patients that had been on contemporary medication before settling for homeopathic medication reported a decrease of over 300% in their drug bill. Such a direction was fruitful in contributing to a general reduction in the cost of treatment for the patients that had settled for homeopathic medication.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Approaches that have been used in the Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Homeopathy

In the direction of evaluating the cost-effectiveness analysis of homeopathic practise at a macro-scale level, we set out by investigating important elements in homeopathic practise that relate to the economical viability of homeopathic practise. The effectiveness of homeopathy at that point was evaluated from available literatures that had been written in favour of homeopathic practise. These particular literatures focused on some studies that support the use of homeopathic practise to treat some conditions. Conclusions from these particular studies have been used in this paper to argue for the use of homeopathy at a macro scale level. At that particular point, the kind of studies that were considered focussed on general observations about homeopathic principles; such as observations on the dilution theory, and the effect of homeopathic medications on plants.

In one way, we can agree that the studies that were considered during the consideration on the question of homeopathic effectiveness present strong arguments in favour of homeopathic practise that cannot be ignored. These particular studies have been done by respected researchers whose findings have advised government policy makers on the subject of incorporating homeopathy into the general medical practise. Generally, an individual that is interested in scientific explanations for any natural and artificial process will find it difficult to agree with the findings that have been presented on homeopathic therapies. Most of the principles that inform the practise of homeopathic medication are incompatible with scientific principles.

However, we cannot entirely rely on science to explain all natural and artificial processes that we experience. There are still many mysteries that have evaded the scrutiny of science. Perhaps, there is still much to discover in science. What I found convincing about the studies that I considered on homeopathic practise, and indeed about the whole concept of homeopathic practise is the fact that homeopathic practise is based on a discipline of empirical observations. This tradition of empirical observations has focussed on how living things can respond to specific substances in the environment to improve their health. Having evolved, grown, and refined in over two hundred years, this tradition of empirical observations and research cannot be dismissed as mere usage of placebos to treat different conditions.

Since homeopathy is based on a tradition of observations with a specific procedure of practise in identifying and treating different conditions, it has not been difficult for searchers to study the effectiveness of homeopathic practise. All of the research studies that I have considered have based their findings on observational data. Still we cannot ignore the fact that most of the research that has so far been done on homeopathic practise is still hazy in its findings. The practise of homeopathy itself is reliant on a complex relationship that is difficult to easily evaluate. For example, homeopathic physicians rely on a wide range of factors when giving medications to patients. Among the factors that they often consider include the health history of a patient, his emotional status, in addition to disease symptoms.

What makes given medication to work is therefore dependable on a correct diagnosis of a specific condition by a homeopathic practitioner. In the current circumstances, it is very easy for homeopathic practitioners to suggest wrong medication to a patient. Moreover, unlike conventional therapies, the successes of homeopathic therapies heavily depend on the susceptibility of a patient to given medications. Such a direction leaves discrepancies on the effectiveness of given homeopathic medications. The principles that are used in homeopathic practise itself are also susceptible to errors. For example, how can we know that given homeopathic drugs have been correctly prepared to treat certain conditions (especially with the absence of active ingredients in most medications).

When the factors above are considered, it can obviously be seen why an attempt to measure the effectiveness of homeopathic medications may end up in futility. Still, what specific studies have done is to help us observe a pattern that can lay a ground for further homeopathic study and scrutiny. Two important observations can thus be made about the effectiveness of homeopathic practise. First, we cannot disagree that homeopathic practise has been helpful in managing certain conditions for patients that have been undergoing homeopathic medication. Secondly, although we cannot explain the principles behind homeopathic practise, these principles seem to work for some patients (as judged by observational data).

In evaluating the economical viability of homeopathic practise, three specific factors unique to homeopathic practise were considered. My belief is that these three factors can be extrapolated to estimate the macro cost of homeopathic practise. The three factors that were identified and evaluated include; homeopathic medications, homeopathic diagnostic and treatment procedures, and consultation costs. These three factors that have been mentioned above differentiate homeopathic practise (economical) to contemporary medical practise. Having identified the above factors, I then set out to evaluate how these factors can be used to evaluate the societal cost of homeopathic practise. This particular data was obtained from a study that had been done by van and Ives. It was difficult to extrapolate how the other factors can affect the large scale economy of medical practise. However, it could obviously be observed that homeopathic practise is generally cheaper to normal medical practise (Van and Ives 8).

Since medial expenses rely heavily on unseen factors that are difficult to identify and estimate, the approach that I used to perform an effectiveness-cost analysis of homeopathic practise at a large scale level could not identify an appropriate model that I would have used. A number of important parameters could have been left out in my research. Such an observation has also been made in many of the studies that I considered in this particular paper. There currently exists no research that has exhaustively tackled the question of homeopathic economics. An attempt to understand the full economic impact of homeopathic practise at a macro scale level would have to consider an array of factors that are difficult to analyse. For example, do we need to make savings on drug expenditure but lose thousands of jobs due to a possible layoff in the manufacturing sector? These are issues that are difficult to evaluate. The work of many researchers on the above issue can only be used to lay ground for a more detailed and exhaustive research.

Having done the cost-effectiveness analysis of homeopathic practise, I then set out to understand the cost-effectiveness analysis of homeopathy at an individual scale level. Such a direction was done through the consideration of peer reviewed literatures that had performed a similar analysis. My interest was to obtain the economic outcome of homeopathic practise to an individual patient. Such a process was done through the consideration of costs that are incurred by patients who seek homeopathic therapies. An attempt was made to identify all the type of costs (including direct and indirect costs) that are often incurred by patients who seek homeopathic therapy. The costs that are incurred by patients that choose homeopathic therapy to treat their conditions were them compared with the costs that are incurred by patients who seek conventional therapies. The measure of homeopathic effectiveness was done through the use of different methodologies including patient responses on their health, the response of physicians, and a direct measure of health indicators such as blood pressure. Again, all of the research that was considered here was systematic and observational.

The researches that were considered here were helpful in evaluating the cost outcome of homeopathic therapies to individual patients. Since most of the data that had been used in these researches was primary (and with a high level of confidence), the cost analysis that was considered at this point is quite reliable. The consideration of indirect costs which result from homeopathic medication (including the money and savings that is lost due to hospitalization and in travelling) was useful in obtaining a clearer picture of patient expenditures on homeopathic therapies. However, this particular approach was not without limitations (Van and Ives 8).

First, measuring the effectiveness of homeopathic medication can only be considered as an attempt that can only result in data that is far from accurate. Since a considerable number of patients that were studied had been using, or were concurrently using conventional medication, the conclusions of the researchers on the effectiveness of homeopathic medication may have been compromised. Moreover, it is difficult to identify specific parameters that can measure the effectiveness of homeopathic therapy. For example, it may not be advisable to rely on the views of patients due to possible bias. Since the cost of contemporary medication was estimated most of the time, it is possible for the researchers to have biased figures to the advantage of homeopathic practise. However, since the researchers were careful to obtain accurate data, their research can help us to observe a pattern about the spending of individual patients on homeopathic therapy; and how this spending compares with what would have been spent on conventional medication. The observed patterns can then lay ground for further research on cost-effectiveness analysis of homeopathy at an individual level.

Emerging Policy Issues

Due to the increasing health care costs in many economies, there is a need to restructure health policies. It is now becoming evident that unless some health reforms are made, healthcare costs will increasingly become unsustainable and unaffordable to the majority. Among the directions that are now becoming pursued by some economies is the incorporation and support of alternative and complementary medicine therapies. Countries like Nigeria, Italy, Switzerland, England, Brazil, India, among many other countries are now incorporating the practise of homeopathic therapies into their healthcare systems. A form of alternative and complementary medicine that has been of great interest to many economies is homeopathic therapy. The question of economic viability and effectiveness of homeopathic practise is obviously a question that needs to be answered so as to correctly inform the designers of health policies on the way forward. Health care policy designers need to be aware of the large-scale and individual impact of homeopathic practise so as to implement specific decisions designed to improve the wellbeing of citizens (Van and Ives 6).

As it has been seen earlier, homeopathic practise is a complex practise that is difficult to evaluate. On one hand, homeopathic practise holds the promise of availing a cheaper and a more effective procedure of treating many conditions. On the other hand, homeopathic practise operates on principles that go against known scientific principles; hence, making it difficult to absolutely rely on homeopathic therapies to treat various conditions that have continued to attack man. All decisions relating to homeopathic therapies therefore need to be informed by the above realities. Should governments incorporate homeopathic practises into their healthcare systems? For many reasons, it is useful for governments to incorporate homeopathic practise into their health care systems. Prime among the reasons for the need of incorporating the practise of homeopathy into health care systems is the promise of cheaper, better, and more effective homeopathic procedures to treat different conditions. Homeopathic medication promises cheaper and safe drugs, better health, easy medication and more personalised medication (Van and Ives 6).

The potential of homeopathy to solve many of our health care concerns cannot therefore be ignored. However, such incorporation needs to realize the limitations of homeopathy at the moment. The direction of health care policies on homeopathy should therefore focus on homeopathic research. We cannot deny that homeopathy therapies have been more useful in treating certain conditions than contemporary medication. However, our knowledge of homeopathy is greatly limited at the moment. Developing on the research that had been started by ancient researchers can help us understand homeopathic practises better. So as to make a headway, homeopathic research should focus more on the tradition of empirical observations and observations of different conditions and their cures (Van and Ives 6).

Funding of homeopathic research should also be seen on a wider perspective. The incorporation of homeopathic practises into health care systems is also in itself part of homeopathic research. The greater the number of patients that visit homeopathic clinics, the more we can expand our database of knowledge about homeopathy; hence, providing useful information which would help to expand our knowledge of homeopathic practise. Besides, the profession of homeopathic therapy is likely to gain from an increase in the number of patients that seek homeopathic therapies. Homeopathic practitioners will have a chance of sharpening their skills as they attend to increasing patients in their clinics. Homeopathic practise has been built from a tradition of research that has expanded over the last two hundred years.

We can be able to expand our knowledge about homeopathy further by allowing the practise to grow in our society (Van and Ives 6). Still, it would be useful to provide information to the public about he practise of homeopathic therapies; thus, enabling the public to make informed decisions when seeking homeopathic therapies. Currently, there is a lot of contradictory information about the practise of homeopathy. It would therefore be useful for relevant parties to inform the public about their policy on homeopathy, the potential of homeopathy, and the limitations of homeopathy. Interestingly, it the well educated and more affluent segment of the society that prefer homeopathic practise to contemporary medication (for the treatment of certain conditions). Such a direction indicates that a large portion of the public is ignorant about homeopathic practise.

The incorporation of homeopathic practise necessitates for the creation of regulations that are required to monitor homeopathic profession. Here, it would be useful to safeguard the interests of patents among other parties of interest. An issue that is of great interest is homeopathic medication. It is important to ensure that homeopathic drugs contain no traces of substances that can be harmful to an individual. Such a direction would call for the implementation of laws that require homeopathic drugs to adhere to the requirements of the drugs and poisons board. Moreover, all homeopathic medications should indicate on a clear label the type of substances that have been used as its constituents. Such a direction would help the public to avoid substances that can cause harmful reactions in their bodies.

Moreover, it is important to ensure that al homeopathic drugs are produced within the principles of homeopathic practise. Here, it may be necessary to develop a centralised system of producing homeopathic drugs. Since most homeopathic drugs contain no trace of an active ingredient, it is important that they are well prepared so as to be effective in treating given conditions. Another issue that would require regulation is the training, registration, and regulation of homeopathic practitioners. It is important to ensure that patients are subjected to homeopathic practitioners who are adequately trained for their work. The mentioned issues rank among other emerging factors that would require regulation in the direction of controlling homeopathic practise.

The incorporation of homeopathic practise must be done concurrently with the support of conventional therapy. As of now, conventional therapy is more effective in treating certain conditions than homeopathic therapy. Moreover, the approach of conventional medication in treating certain conditions is more predictive and less personalised than homeopathic medication. It is therefore important that adequate focus be placed on conventional medication as well as homeopathic medication. An alternative that can be pursued in this direction would be to encourage homeopathic research for some particular conditions. As we had seen earlier, homeopathy is believed to be more effective in treating some chronic conditions like allergic reactions. About a third of patients with allergic reactions in the US prefer homeopathic medication to conventional medication. In general, since it has not been absolutely proven that homeopathic therapies work, it will be fruitful to support homeopathic research while funding conventional medication. Until, we obtain a better understanding of homeopathy practise, we will mainly remain with the option of pursuing conventional medication (Van and Ives 8).

As it had been shown in the Rossi et al. study, homeopathic medication can be even cheaper when the medical environment is tailored in specific ways. Here, patients incurred very low expenses on homeopathic therapies as a result of some factors at play at that particular environment that was studied by Rossi et al. Since the cost of transport to hospitals by patients is usually subsidized by the Italian government, the expenditure of patients on transportation was greatly reduced. Moreover, the cost of consultation was independent of the number of consultations per patient. Consultation periods were also fixed. Since homeopathic patients require a more personalised approach in the diagnosis of their conditions, patients can spend highly (including transport and indirect costs) on consultation due to the numerous consultations that they often require in the initial stages of treatment (Van and Ives 8). Governments can therefore learn from the Italian model in the direction of reducing medical expenses for homeopathic patients, as well as for patients that seek conventional medication.

An important and useful approach that can be used in developing homeopathic policies is to use homeopathic practise for preventive medication. Since homeopathy can be used to improve the health condition; and therefore the immunity of a healthy person, homeopathic therapy can be supported to aid in preventive Medicare. The above approach would result in two useful consequences. First, since homeopathic practise is still in its infancy stage of development, a preventive approach would help to expand the knowledge database of homeopathic practise. Secondly, such a direction would place patients who are undecided about the medication that they would like to pursue in less danger of making wrong choices.

Conclusion

Because it holds the promise of cheaper, better and effective medication, homeopathic therapy has attracted great interest from all stakeholders in the health-care system. The controversy surrounding the principles of homeopathic practise has not prevented homeopathic practise from expanding. Many studies that have so far been done on homeopathic practise have resulted in contrary conclusions. Meanwhile, many patients are now turning to homeopathic medication as an alternative form of medication to ordinary medication. In addition, many governments are now incorporating homeopathic therapy into their respective health-care systems. It has therefore been useful to consider a cost-effectiveness analysis of homeopathic medication. As we have observed, homeopathic practise is generally cheaper than conventional therapies. The outcome for patients is a cheaper method of accessing healthcare. Moreover, homeopathy has better implications on the wider economy than conventional medication. However, due to limited knowledge on homeopathy, it would be safer to support conventional mediation as we support more homeopathic research.

Works Cited

Herman, Patricia. “Is Complementary and Alternative Medicine Cost-Effective? A Systematic Review” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 5.11 (2005): 5-11. Print.

Nahin, Richard et al. “Cost of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and The Frequency of Visits to CAM practitioners: United States, 2007.” National Health Statistics Report 18:4 (2009). Print.

Rossi, Elio et al. “Cost-Benefit Evaluation of Homeopathy versus Conventional Therapy in Respiratory Diseases” Homeopathy 98 (2009), 2-10. Print.

Van, Wassenhoven and Ives Geoffrey “An Observational Study of Patients Receiving Homeopathic Treatment” Homeopathy 93.2 (2004): 3-11. Print.

Wolf, Ursula et al. “Effectiveness, Safety and Cost Effectiveness of Homeopathy Practise” Forschende 13.2 (2006):19-29. Print.

Homeopathy: An Economic Analysis
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